Yale Study Concludes Fracking DOES NOT Contaminate Drinking Water

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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The Sierra Club should start printing retractions (something they’ve been getting a lot of practice doing), because researchers from Yale University have concluded that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, doesn’t contaminate drinking water!

“[There is] no evidence of association with deeper brines or long-range migration of these compounds to the shallow aquifers” concludes the new study, which was published in the highly prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. The study, the largest of its kind, sampled 64 private water wells near fracking sites to determine if they could be contaminated by fracking fluids.

“[The chemicals] are likely not a threat to human health,” said Brian Drollette, the study’s first author who is a chemical and environmental engineering graduate student.

The Yale researchers found essentially no contamination in well water, and the amounts they did detect were hundreds or thousands of times smaller than can be detected by commercial labs.

Environmentalists have long opposed fracking. One of fracking’s most vocal opponents, the Sierra Club, has claimed that “fracking has contaminated the drinking water of hundreds of thousands of Americans” despite contradictory research done by regulatory bodies, academics and even the EPA. This new Yale study only adds to the body of evidence contracting the Sierra Club and other fracking opponents.

The Yale study also bolsters findings made by the Environmental Protection Agency earlier this year that “did not find that [fracking techniques] have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States” from fracking.

Environmentalists with the blog Ecowatch criticized the EPA’s findings by saying that “millions of Americans know that fracking contaminates ground water and for the EPA to report any differently only proves that the greatest contamination from the industry comes from its influence and ownership of our government.”

Yet, with fracking environmentalists are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Fracking has made natural gas much cheaper, allowing it to displace coal as a major source of electricity generation. So not only can fracking proponents say the well-stimulation technique is environmentally friendly, they can claim fracking can be used to fight global warming.

Increasing use of natural gas “has probably been the single largest contributor to the … largely unexpected decline in U.S. CO2 emissions” according both to Berkeley Earth and the Department of Energy. This means that more fracking for natural gas will likely cause a significant drop in carbon dioxide emissions.

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Andrew Follett